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Which programming languages will get you a job in a top hedge fund?

Hedge funds programming languages

Feverishly learning SQL and Python

Once upon a time, you could get a job at a hedge fund by virtue of your trading prowess. Maybe you still can. However, if you want to join a hedge fund following a systematic trading strategy, coding expertise is essential.

We looked at the CVs of 6,425 professionals working at 16 top hedge funds* globally. Not all were following purely systematic strategies – some were multi-strategy funds. As the chart below shows, one language in particular features on the resumes of employees at top hedge funds: Structured Query Language (SQL).

There’s a reason for this: hedge funds which rely upon coding are all about devising trading strategies after collecting and analyzing huge data sets, and SQL is used within other programmes to modify and query databases. Ranking behind SQL are C++, Java and Python. They weren’t nearly as popular in our sample and C++ was ahead of both Java and Python.

Things might be changing though. Joel Sichel, a systematic trading headhunter at GQR Global Markets in New York, says that there’s been a recent surge in demand for people who can code Python, “due to its transparency and ease of use for later users coming on to a pre-programmed system.” This might be why Man Group’s AHL Coding competition, in which student coders compete for a £5k prize, is again being run entirely in Python. SQL doesn’t even get a look in.

*Caxton, Citadel, Millennium Capital, Och-Ziff Asset Management, Aspect Capital, Man Group, Arrowgrass Capital, Lansdowne Partners, AQR, Two Sigma, Capula, Winton, Odey Asset Management, BlueCrest, Brevan Howard, Tudor Capital, Bridgewater Associates, D.E. Shaw, Fortress Investment Group, Renaissance Technologies. 

Comments (2)

  1. The surprising thing is that Cobol is there at all, not that SQL is top. As an aside, Hadoop is a distributed file system that is combined with map/reduce functions to manipulate the data and not a programming language. The remainder of the top 5 are proper general use programming languages with each of which proper applications can be built. SQL is more of an afterthought and in some instances a forgone conclusion: very standard kit. It’s like owning a hammer as a builder, if they’re impressed you probably do not want to work there.

  2. “Hmtl” is also not a programming language… I will assume that its an HTML typo (still not a programming language). And neither is SQL, its a data access protocol.

    Java and C# are the two ‘major’ OO languages used in the industry, Python (being a multi-paradigm interpreted language) is making a resurgence for data analysis, so again no surprise.

    The interesting thing for me is that R is not there.

    I like the hammer and not wanting to work there analogy.

    What will get you a job at a hedge fund is problem solving ability, and aptitude to learn a variety of technical skills (not listing ‘languages’ you can code)

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